Darren Waller went from a tight end who caught just 18 passes in three seasons and struggled to stay on the field due to suspensions to one of the most unexpected weapons in the NFL in 2019.
He believes his Las Vegas Raiders can make a similar leap from obscurity to earned notoriety in 2020.
"If you look at things across the board, starting with the offensive line and the quarterback, with improvement at the receiver positions and the tight ends trying to be consistent, I think our offense has a chance to do a lot of great things and put up a lot of great numbers," Waller said Tuesday in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, per NBC Sports Bay Area. "The big thing for us is finishing in the red zone this year. I know that we're doing everything in our power to improve upon that. I don't feel like having a top-five offense is out of the picture."
The Raiders weren't exactly horrible on offense last season. Las Vegas ranked 11th in yards per game (363.7) with a well-balanced attack that saw it break 115 yards per game on the ground. But the Raiders also tied for 23rd in the league in scoring and finished 22nd in red-zone percentage, meaning they could move the ball, but they just couldn't finish off drives.
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock lamented this issue during the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, and he pointed to his team's lack of weapons in the receiving corps. He then went out and drafted Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs with the 12th-overall pick, added versatile running back Lynn Bowden Jr. and finished his accumulation of weapons by snagging South Carolina playmaker Bryan Edwards in the third round.
Add that offensive talent to a group that includes two effective tight ends in Waller -- my choice at the position for the Next Gen Stats All-Pro Team -- and Foster Moreau, and a running back room led by Offensive Rookie of the Year snub Josh Jacobs, and you've got yourself some toys with which Derek Carr can play.
"We have that much talent," Waller said. "We have guys who are buying in. We have a balanced system. I have high expectations, and I think everyone on the offense would say the same thing."
Waller won't find himself as the lone big-play threat in the passing game this year if all things go according to plan. Even if they don't, the Raiders now have a little room for error. That should help them produce some fireworks in their new home this fall.